I believe that the path to success for most people begins with finding one’s true passion. Look closely and you’ll find passion in athletes at the top of their game, in people who build successful businesses and in most of your friends, colleagues and acquaintances who accomplish great things. If you can find your one great inner passion, you can sometimes use it as a lever to positively influence all aspects of your life. That has been my experience with climbing.
When I was an adolescent, I don’t think that even those who knew me best could have predicted the positive influence of climbing on my life and where it would eventually lead me. Up until my early twenties, I had always been a mediocre student and lacked any real life direction. After graduating from high school, I notched a couple of failed attempts at college before finding myself in a dead end job. But a chance encounter with an old friend connected my childhood passion for climbing to the Outdoor Recreation Program at Lakehead University. My natural passion as a child, when connected to an educational and professional pathway, became my transforming miracle as a young man. My studies and my climbing were mutually reinforcing, and this created in me a whole new attitude toward academics. All my grades went up, even those that had no connection to climbing whatsoever. Once an academic failure, I became a leading student and respected teaching assistant almost overnight.
Back then, my passion and success in climbing turned into a powerful lever that I could apply to my academic life. Today, climbing helps me frame almost any personal or professional challenge in familiar and manageable terms. A new business project becomes my next “mountain expedition” to which I will apply all of my energy and skill.
I believe that, even as adults, when we make some of our bigger life choices, it is worth trying to connect our careers and pastimes to our true passions. When passion is unleashed, it spills over and biases any project in favour of successful outcomes.